UPDATE: IPS has released a statement stating the school corporation is “not confident that IPS will be able to run regular bus routes in a safe and efficient manner” for school on Monday.
“After continued conversations with AFSCME union leadership all weekend, out of an abundance of caution, Indianapolis Public Schools has communicated to families this evening that given the current trend in the number of driver call-offs received thus far, we are not confident that IPS will be able to run regular school bus routes in a safe and efficient manner for Monday, March 2. While our team does have a contingency plan for the current number of drivers who have called off, any additional drivers who chose to call off overnight would make coverage no longer feasible,” the statement reads.
Schools will remain open on Monday, according to IPS, and meal service will still be provided.
IndyGo is partnering with IPS to provide free rides, with no bus pass required, to all students under the age of 18. Students simply will need to tell IndyGo drivers they attend IPS. Adults may accompany younger students as well, but will need to purchase bus fare.
Alternate transportation options could include carpooling with other IPS families.
A final update on the situation will be released by IPS by 5:30 a.m. on Monday morning.
ORIGINAL STORY FOLLOWS:
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The state’s largest school district is urging parents to have a backup plan in place for getting their students to school on time Monday morning.
“While IPS continues to work with ASFCME union leadership, the district is recommending families look for alternative ways to get their students to school on Monday — including carpooling, ride sharing and public transit,” read a tweet from Indianapolis Public Schools Sunday morning.
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 661 represents approximately 135 IPS bus drivers and attendants who anticipate losing their jobs this summer when the school district turns over all of its student transportation to First Student, Inc.
‘The private First Student company has made a commitment they want to hire all the employees. They’re trying to hire up to six hundred folks to do the job that needs to be done,” said AFSCME International Vice President Steve Quick. “IPS is working with the union now, and what we’re trying is a few things. They gave us a list of 22 jobs for folks if they want to stay, keep their retirement and take another position in the school or at IPS, they’ll be able to do that.”
The unauthorized job action Friday paralyzed bus transportation for 22,000 of IPS’ 30,000 students, leaving classrooms half-empty and parents scrambling to deliver and pick up children from school.
“We want to meet with the employees to say, ‘Try another venue to show that you’re disappointed but we have to get these kids to school,’” said Quick, “and a lot of these kids, these employees got kids and grandkids themselves and the community got kids, single parents working, so we gotta figure a way to fight this without the kids being in the middle.”
Quick said union leadership was unsuccessful over the weekend in gaining rank-and-file commitment to show up for work as scheduled Monday morning.
“I think their policy is you have to call in by five or five thirty in the morning,” said Quick. “I think that’s when IPS will know if they’re gonna have the same challenge they had Friday.”
Quick said many bus drivers are single mothers whose own children depend on IPS transportation to attend school
“I would say that I would have a plan B that someone can get them to school to make sure they get to school just in case employees and bus drivers don’t show up.”